musings on music, travel, books, and life from Southeast Asia

Monks for the Road

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My bags are packed and I’ll be hitting the road soon, off to Mandalay and Shan State for about 12 days. As usual, one of the highlights will be visiting the novice monks at the monastery in Tat Ein village, not far from the town of Nyaunghswe, which in turn is just down the canal from the famous Inle Lake.

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These little monks are great kids, and most come from other villages in the region. Staying at the monastery gives them a chance to get an education at the local primary school, as well as learning more about Buddhism. But what happens when they leave? I’ve been discussing a plan with Ma Pu Sue (the owner of the Bamboo Delight Cooking Class) about how I can help sponsor some of these young monks, keeping them in school after they leave the monastery. All too often in Myanmar, especially in this part of Shan State, the kids study until the fourth grade, maybe the sixth grade, and then they stop. By that point, many of the children are seen as income earners by their families, who don’t see any benefits to keeping the kids in school.

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Both Sue and Kazuko, a friend from Japan who also is a big donor to the village, have helped sponsor children from this village or the Nyaungshwe area, so I’ll be relying on their advice and suggestions to make this idea a reality. And hopefully I’ll also be teaching some English classes at the school (which just started their new term last week). Looking forward to the adventure!

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